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Sunday, July 13, 2014

To Work?

I am a firm believer in work.  I loved my job teaching at the university level, despite all its paperwork (I have been really bothered by people who say I don't work 40 hours a week--that's true--when I am teaching, it's more like 50!  LOL, not really, but teaching is a grueling job).

I have been recovering from illness since November--9 months of chemotherapy and bipolar 2 meds.  The recovery from bipolar is a miracle.  It has returned me to what I was before my breakdown in 2011...or more likely, gathered up all the strengths then and combined them with the strengths now.  There is no shame, I think, in needing antidepressants or meds to treat the brain when it gets ill.  I do think we are an overmedicated society, but a good psychiatrist will not overmedicate.  It does take years sometimes to diagnose bipolar disorder, and I feel glad that it has happened for me, as I can see where it may have really affected my life over the years.  Far from being the sort of sad, confused person I was on Prozac, my bipolar meds have helped me regain my creativity, happiness, and belief in the good things about life--even in the face of enormous grief, I have still managed to do many good things and be a good parent to Thistle in these seven difficult months.

Now I am considering whether to return to work, and, given that I am still very much recovering, I may have to take either a leave of absence for one more semester (leaving me with nearly two years of work off, on a three-year contract), or retire.

I do not know what I am going to decide.  It seems so wonderful to think of a life where I can really devote time to Thistle every night instead of tackling a pile of papers, do what I wish when she is in school instead of sweating things out in the classroom, especially when I am concerned about making some politically incorrect statement or offending someone, teaching grammar when I really, really suck at it, have time to dance and work on writing--it sounds so lovely and tempting.

The above may have to be what I ultimately decide.  It is very hard to release a job that was a triumph for me, and students I absolutely love.  However, I have one little student who is 100 percent my responsibility (Thistle).  I need to stay alive until she grows up and can take care of herself.  I am charged with helping her grow and learn--and remember, she has no television here and nothing to numb her out; I really have to interact with her all the time.  Plus, there will be oodles of children to teach if I happen to become a---GASP--a "room mom".

It looks like I am leaning on the side of one more year off, just because I can, and then see.  It's a healthy thing not to just bail and run.